Shocking legions of her worshippers (and everyone else for that matter), Beyonce released her latest album completely by surprise on Thursday evening via iTunes.

As reported by Billboard, the diva’s self-titled release provided further surprise when it sold 80,000 copies in the first three hours of its availability and is expected to debut at number one on next weeks chart. According to Billboard, industry insiders said that the sales took place between 9pm on Thursday to midnight on Friday.

The album is unique in the sense that it contains fourteen tracks and seventeen music videos, all of which are currently only available through iTunes. Featuring collaborations with her spouse Jay Z, along with Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Drake, The Dream and Frank Ocean, fans were already eager to purchase the album.

As a result, when it was released by surprise on Thursday evening, millions downloaded the record and iTunes crashed due to the quick influx. When it was eventually restored, the album provided a third surprise as the new 14 tracks could only be downloaded as a $15.99 (£9.80) piece, with singular track downloads disabled.

Beyonce explained this release campaign in a statement: ‘I didn’t want to release music the way I’ve done it’. She said, ‘I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready, from me to my fans.’

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